Hackers Use Drones to Steal Wireless Print Jobs

8. October 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Wifi in the Sky

Researchers in Singapore recently proved that unsecured wireless data isn't safe - even if it's 30 stories in the air. The "hackers" attached a smart phone loaded with two different apps they designed to a drone. The first detects open wifi printers and alerts organizations that their device is open to attack. The second app actually intercepts the data being sent to the printer. The project was designed by students Jinghui Toh and Hatib Muhammad in part of a government-sponsored effort to defend against cyber attacks. 

The students were supervised by Yuval Elovici, head of iTrust, a cybersecurity research center at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. "The main point [of the research] was to develop a mechanism to try to patrol the perimeter of the organization and find open printers from outside the organization," Elovici says. "It’s dramatically cheaper than a conventional pen test."

A drone hovering outside your office window would be hard to miss, but a typical printer's signals are transmitted 30 meters. Combine this with the hacker controlling the drone from a half mile away, or an autonomous drone flying itself, and the thief is hard to track down. In the video above, researchers even attached a phone to a robot vacuum cleaner and left it to clean up data as it moved its way around the building.

You can read the rest of the details of this study on Wired.

Protect Your Printer

The biggest takeaway from this research is that no network is safe, whether it's your home wifi or the office printer network. If you don't have a dedicated IT professional or tech-savvy friend, here is some information from HP on the different types of networks and how to protect them. Tips include working behind a firewall, creating a network just for guests, and securing your printer account.

Take a few minutes to secure your networks now. It could save you a lot of time and hassle in the future!

 

The ABCs of Science

24. September 2015 13:57 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)

The contradictory nature of language makes it fascinating. The nuances and inflections found in various languages seem to separate us. Meanwhile, the widespread use of language brings us together. Language is one of the hallmarks of human evolution. It's a diverse, evolving system that represents our inherent need to connect with one another.

Although the importance of language can’t be overestimated, its prolific use is often taken for granted. Varying dialects and physical disabilities create even more difficulties in communication, even among those who speak the same language. Whether or not it's a matter of life or death, people need to be able to get their message across as clearly as possible. Fortunately, when regular words fail us, technology lends some assistance.

Hands-On Speech

Since its creation in 1824, the Braille writing system has been an invaluable resource for the visually impaired. Braille readers are able to decipher literature physically by moving their hands across deep impressions in paper. Unfortunately, the process by which Braille pages are printed is both costly and time-consuming. In the fast-paced Digital Age, this puts the blind at risk for not getting crucial information in a timely fashion. One young inventor is hoping to change that.

Shubham Banerjee
Image via Smithsonian Mag

Although twelve-year-old Shubham Banerjee has full use of his sight, he is well aware of the statistics regarding the drop-off in modern Braille usage. With the prohibitive cost of printing and the popularity of voice-to-text technology, he saw that people were missing out on access to an important literary tool. It was then that the young engineering student used a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit to build a prototype Braille printer that he named Braigo. The printer expedites the printing process while using materials that significantly lower the cost. Banerjee, now a high school freshman, has founded his own company, Braigo Labs, which has already begun crafting the new model of his invaluable printing device.

Living Language

Biochemist Linden Gledhill was growing and cultivating live coral when his internet research led him to information on ferrofluids. Ferrofluids are created when fluids are infused with magnetic particles that allow them to be controlled and manipulated. The unique patterns fascinated Gledhill and he soon found that he could recreate specific patterns over and over again. That’s when he informed his friend Craig Ward, a former advertising executive, and the two of them began to form a series of random blobs into a specific language.

meaningful blobs
Image via Wired.

The collaboration led to the creation of the Fe203 Glyphs alphabet. It consists of 138 individual designs, which resemble Rorschach-style ink blots. Although the glyphs were created for no specific purpose, the creators say they’ve gotten many interesting suggestions. They say the system has been suggested as an alternative to Braille, cryptography, and even QR codes.

Whether these newly invented writing styles become the new norm or become ancient history remains to be seen. What's certain is that technology has increased the number of ways people can communicate with one another. Linguistic barriers are no longer as imposing as they once were.

The Future of Preserving Prints

Collecting and recreating images is a practice as old as humanity itself. From cave-wall paintings to Snapchat updates, our species has always found creative ways to preserve moments that would otherwise have faded from memory. As we advance the tools we use to preserve these images, the question arises: How long will a new format last until it must be replaced?

From Print to Pixels

London’s Cambridge University Library is home to some of the most important literary works in the history of the world. One such piece, The Manual of Calligraphy and Painting, is renowned not only for what it contains, but for being something only a few people have seen. The original 17th century Chinese tome, containing over 138 paintings and poems, is a rare book indeed. The Cambridge copy, considered too delicate to open, remains closed within its display. Fortunately, the book has been reprinted many times over the centuries, and those reprints paved the way for the new digital incarnation.

landscape painting
Image via MentalFloss

Since the book holds such historical significance, the library explored several options for making its pages available when the book itself couldn’t be opened. Using one of the older reprints, the library made digital copies of the pages that scholars and the public would be able to view at their leisure. Now everyone can see inside the book that helped revolutionize printing technology.

In a Snap

It may be hard to believe, but most of today’s youth have no idea what it’s like to hold an actual photograph in their hands. These days, posting a photo to a “wall” usually means sharing it on social media. Yet there’s a growing movement looking to bring back printed photographs in the digital age. The company leading the charge is one whose name is synonymous with “point and shoot.”

camera and snapshot
Image via Wired.

The Polaroid camera brought a much-needed simplicity to consumer photography. A camera that took and instantly printed photos, it did away with the need for professional development. Later, with the advent of digital photography, most people went without physical prints altogether.

Yet Polaroid has seen a revival in the Digital Age. Last year saw the introduction of the company’s Cube mini-camera and Zip instant mobile printer. This year will see an addition to their new digital line with the introduction of the Snap (see above). Although the Snap doesn’t have the extensive editing features of smartphone cameras and photo sites like Instagram, it does come with flash, timer, and instant ink-free printing.

The camera is scheduled to hit store shelves this winter for $99.

See what Develops

If the history of technology has taught us anything, it’s that no format is perfect or permanent. Even digital images are subject to degradation. But with each new advance comes the ability to preserve images for generations to come. We’ve come a long way from cave-wall paintings. Now we just need to make sure they're preserved for future tribes!

Give Them a Hand

27. August 2015 13:57 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)

It's said that the first five years of a child's life are, developmentally, the most important. These are the years when children begin to develop their motor skills, personality, and outlook, and it's crucial that children be given every opportunity to meet their full potential.

Not all children are born with the advantages of their peers. Thankfully, advances in technology are helping disadvantaged children stand on equal footing with their classmates and friends. The following stories look at how that 3D-printing technology is helping children with disabilities during these crucial developmental years.

Field of Dreams

It's not easy for a sports fan to steal attention from seasoned athletes, but that's just what happened on August 17th when five-year-old Hailey Dawson—one the Orioles' biggest fans—threw the ceremonial First Pitch with her new 3D-printed arm.

Hailey has a condition known as Poland Syndrome. Her right arm stopped developing while she was still in the womb.

Hailey's parents did extensive research into prosthetics, but quickly found them to be expensive and unable to adapt to a child's growth. That's when Hailey's mother turned to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, whose engineering students were more than happy to help. Using a free online design, the students printed and assembled an arm for Hailey, adorned with the logo and colors of her favorite team. The entire process cost $20.

"[The 3D-printed hand] is operated by wrist movement," says Hailey's mother, Yong. When Hailey's wrist goes to a down motion, the fingers will grasp and when it goes in the up motion, the fingers release." Although Hailey is too young to play professionally, don't be surprised if one day she and her new arm are part of the Orioles' starting line-up!

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Just like Hailey, Isabella was born with an underdeveloped limb. Her parents also researched prosthetics only to find them financially prohibitive and developmentally insensitive. Isabella's case caught the attention of Stephen Davies, a fellow congenital amputee and member of Team UnLimbited.

Davies personally delivered Isabella's new arm. (He shot the above video, too, which briefly features his own 3D-printed left hand popping into frame.) The donation is part of a larger campaign by E-Nable to deliver prosthetic limbs to more than 1,000 children in need worldwide. If Isabella's reaction is any indication, they'll also be delivering countless smiles.

The Shape of Things to Come

As both of the preceding stories have shown, two of the most frequent obstacles for those

in need of prosthetics are the issues of cost and adaptability. As innovative as the new technologies may be, these two issues will often keep them out of reach of the people who need them most.

Joel Gibbard, a 25-year-old grad student born and raised in Great Britain as a congenital amputee, decided to design and build his own mechanical hand. He founded the company OpenBionics, which specializes in creating affordable, motorized 3D-printed limbs.

"We're using lower-cost motors than they have in high-end devices, so the overall strength is lower," says Gibbard. The average model produced by OpenBionics could cost around $5,000. That's considerably cheaper than industrial models, which cost as much as $95,000 apiece. With newly found support by Disney's TechStars Accelerator program, OpenBionics hopes to begin selling their models to the public some time next year.

Looking Forward

Technology is defined not by its invention, but by its use. Children adapt to new technologies and surroundings more quickly than adults. Somewhere in between, the human gift for innovation combines with natural development to ensure equal opportunities for everybody involved.

The Whole World is Watching

20. August 2015 13:35 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

A country's flag is, on one hand, just a piece of cloth stitched together from homemade rags. On another, it's the banner by which a nation will distinguish itself among other nations, a symbol that allies will praise and enemies will curse. With so much riding on "just a piece of cloth," it goes without saying that a country should not take its choice of flag lightly.

The Down Under’s New Icon

The flag of New Zealand has remained unchanged for more than a century. Although it appears to be an innocuous representation of the British lineage New Zealand shares with Australia, the flag is also an uncomfortable reminder of colonization and genocide. As such, the New Zealand government decided it was time to replace the flag with a new, inoffensive design.

New Zealand flag options
Image via Gizmodo.

In May of 2015, the New Zealand government held a contest in which its citizens chose the design of a new national flag from 10,000 potential designs. As of this writing, the contest came down to four contenders (seen in the image above). The public will vote on these four in November before sending the winner to face off against the current flag in March. It remains to be seen how the rest of the world will react to a new New Zealand flag, but the citizens of New Zealand have made it clear how ready they are for change.

Where have we seen THIS before?

Being the country chosen to host the Olympic Games is an honor fraught with controversy. Japan has found itself in the middle of a unique controversy as it prepares for the 2020 games. In particular, its logo for the event has raised quite a few eyebrows.

Japan Olympics logo comparison
Image via BBC.

Critics have noted that logo’s use of a red dot against a white backdrop bears more than a passing resemblance to the Japanese flag. What has stirred up even more conversation, though, is the accusation that the T-shaped logo was plagiarized. As seen above, the logo bears a striking resemblance to a 2013 Belgian design for the Théâtre de Liège, as designed by artist Olivier Debie. Debie filed a lawsuit at the behest of the theatre, and Japan withdrew the design. Although Japan has yet to reveal a revised design, it’s safe to say that it—like the games themselves—will have the eyes of the entire world upon it.

Let it Fly

The New Zealand flag is being changed because it represents an offensive chapter in the country’s past, while the Japanese Olympic logo is allegedly a rip-off. If there’s one thing both of these cases prove, it’s that, in choosing an icon, it’s impossible to please everyone.

 

Home Is What You Make It

13. August 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

We've mentioned before that 3D printing is revolutionizing home construction. The technology has freed architects from the restraints of a building's size and shape, and given those constructing buildings a wider range of reliable materials. But it's important not to forget everything that goes into a home. Here are a few ways innovators are looking to improve and exploit 3D printer technology in the home.

Table Topped

Lukas Oehmigen grew up behind the Iron Curtain learning that there were no such things as personal possessions. He also thought that architecture needed to be cold and sterile, prioritizing rudimentary functionality over eye-catching design. But once the budding young architect made his way to art school in the West, he was finally able to combine his practicality with a newfound sense of style. He also discovered a new state-of-the-art technology.


BigRep ONE Timeplapse from BigRep Fullscale 3D Printer on Vimeo.

Oehmigen and a crew of architects created the BigRep, a large scale 3D printer designed to print entire pieces of furniture. As shown in the video above, the BigRep creates entire furniture pieces from its large-scale maker, and emphasizes environmentally friendly materials that cut down on waste. The process of using a BigRep is far from perfect, with the average piece taking as long as five days to print completely. Still, Oehmigen is confident that his machine can one day be used in large-scale construction of cars and houses. "These probably won't look like your ordinary car or house, though," he warns.

Lock and Key

The art of picking locks and forging access to restricted areas extends back nearly as far as human civilization itself. The difficult process of trying to break in hasn't stopped potential burglars from trying. Unfortunately, the world's fastest-growing technology has made their jobs easier. Two researchers at the University of Michigan have created an app that allows anyone in the world to make 3D printed copies of "Do Not Duplicate" keys.

Although the researchers claim that the purpose of the publicly available  app, named Keyforge, is to prove the ineffectiveness of traditional locks, it allows any key to be copied with any consumer 3D printer. No statements have yet been made by law enforcement regarding the app, but the research paper can be read in full at the site linked to above. As with the debate over 3D printed firearms, the debate over 3D printed keys proves that technological advances will always be accompanied by serious ethical questions.

3D-Printed LEGO Limbs Help Child Amputees Adjust

Longtime readers of this blog know that we're quite fond of LEGOs and fascinated by the use of 3D printing in the field of medicine. So when news broke of these two elements being brought together, it was only a matter of time before we told you folks about it.

A Man with a Plan

Colombian-born designer Carlos Arturo Torres interned for six months at LEGO's Future Lab. Impressed by the company's dedication to social outreach, Torres convinced them to sponsor a trip back to his hometown of Bogotá, wherein he would observe amputees at Cirec, a rehabilitation center. After spending time in the center’s youth ward, Torres came up with an idea to make a medical attachment out of their favorite toys.

Double Trouble for Young Amputees

As Torres discovered, amputee children not only have to function with a missing limb, but also face a greater social stigma amongst their peers. "My friends in psychology used to tell me that when a kid has a disability, he is not really aware of it until he faces society," says Torres. "That's when they have a super rough encounter."

Introducing Personalized Prosthetics

Torres' design, named "Iko", is for amputees aged to 3-12, covering many of the most important developmental years in a child's life. The attachment allows the child to accessorize and customize the prosthetic as they see fit, helping to build the patient's self-esteem as well as providing functional movement.

After successfully testing the prototypes at Cirec, Torres hopes to have 15 more units ready by this December, with a full production line ready by mid-2017.

A Bridge to the Future

18. June 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Nature and technology are often seen as two contradicting forces whose collision is a sure sign of a changing world. This can be for better (technology discovers new medicines to fight natural illnesses and diseases) or for worse (deforestation displaces wildlife and destroys the ecosystem), but once it’s done, there’s often no going back. What symbol better represents both progression and the combination of two disparate entities more than a bridge?

Build Your Own Bridge

Dutch designer Jorish Laarman has big plans for Amsterdam. His research and development company, MX3D, has spent the last few years thinking up some of the most outlandish-yet-realistic uses for 3-D printing. And their latest plan is their most ambitious yet. They want to construct a 3-D printed bridge over an Amsterdam canal.

But this isn’t the usual case of people assembling a bunch of 3-D printed parts. No, Laarman and his team intend to leave all the work to a few robots. These robots will both create and construct the entire bridge mid-air, starting at one end of the canal and moving to the other.

Although the project still needs approval and the selection of a specific canal, Laarman expects to begin around September of this year. He says “This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds.”

MX3D-3-D-printed-bridge.jpg
(via Gizmodo)

What 3D-printed construction projects would you like to see in the future? Let us know in the comments.

Piece by Piece: 3D Printing Implants

11. June 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)

We’ve mentioned before how the applications of 3D printing in the field of medical science have changed the way both doctors and patients think of surgery. Whether it’s creating missing limbs or growing new tissue from scratch, the technology continues to move closer and closer to levels of sophistication once only thought of as science fiction.

But even as strides are made with visibly noticeable attachments, such as limbs, it’s the parts that aren’t always obvious which can go unattended. Fortunately, there are pioneers in the field who are devoting their attention to those specific “overlooked” areas.

The Titanium Skull

Jessica Cussioli was fortunate. She was able to survive an automobile accident in her native Brazil, but needed extensive reconstructive surgery to rebuild her face. Even after that was completed, there was still a 12-centimeter piece of her skull that was missing, leaving her head disfigured. What’s worse, the type of prosthesis that would assist with her condition proved far too expensive.

Fortunately for Jessica, her parents were resourceful. After contacting doctors at UNICAMP, the doctors agreed that Jessica would be a perfect candidate for a custom-molded titanium implant, created using 3D printing.

Jessica-Cassioli-post-surgery.jpg
(via IFLScience)

After an eight-hour procedure, Jessica’s implant was declared a success. The material is light weight, yet durable. Jessica is expected to make a full recovery, at which point she plans to return to her studies.

Robo-Claw

Until recently, a common complaint about prostheses was that they were both physically cumbersome and cosmetically unattractive. What’s more, they were often only effective for the most rudimentary functions of the missing limb. For instance, a prosthetic arm and hand could hold simple items, but the simple act of turning a key would prove difficult.

Then came the HACKberry.

HACKberry.jpg
(via Gizmodo)

Created by the Japanese company exii, the 3D printed HACKberry is major step forward in prosthetic functionality. In addition to its sleek design, the prosthetic boasts enough articulation in the wrist and digits to grab small items, flip through book pages, and even tie shoes. In addition to that, the hardware is able to be updated and added upon as the technology improves.

Both of the above innovations serve as reminders that while nearly all prosthetics serve a necessary purpose – substituting that which was lost – there’s also a sense of familiarity to be considered. It isn’t simply a case of finding a missing piece, it’s also trying to get it to work as well its predecessor. It might not be the original, but engineers doing their best to make the next best thing.

A Home of Our Own

4. June 2015 12:21 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

It’s said that when one ignores the past, they’re doomed to repeat it. Others learn of history and push ahead with their plans all the same. It’s hard to say which of these scenarios is more likely to be responsible for the current US housing crisis, but it definitely smacks of a repeating pattern. Maybe it’s a residual effect of the market crash of 2008, maybe it’s an inevitable effect of young people suddenly finding themselves flush with income, or maybe it’s a combination both and more. The only thing known for sure is that people need affordable homes.

Fortunately, modern technology is offering a few solutions to the problem.

Man-Made Material

When one is in need of a home, two pressing concerns will be time and money. Unfortunately, a lack of the two isn’t likely to get you very far, especially if you’re trying to build your home from the ground-up. That’s what was on the mind of USC professor Behrokh Khoshnevis when he put his industrial and engineering skills to work. Khoshnevis designed an automated construction system that uses 3-D printer technology to create an entire 2,500-sq. ft. home in roughly 20 hours.

With 3-D computer models and concrete-based materials, Khoshnevis’ system maintains the human element in terms of its design, but drops it at the construction stage.

Contour-Crafting.jpg
(via Engineering.com)

Fixed Pieces

And that design process is crucial in the creation of a domicile for human inhabitants. It isn’t simply a concern of location and materials used, but also layout and design. With that in mind, architect Damien Murtagh decided to turn the 3-D designs he built on his PC into physical models he could assemble by hand. He created the Arckit modeling kit for structural designers to create practical designs they could put their hands on. The project has proven so popular that Murtagh has begun considering selling Arckits in children’s toy stores.

Arckit.png
(via mental_floss)

No matter where you lay your head, these new 3D printing technologies could help you get there faster in the future.

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